A strong sign of the high level of public interest in climate change and carbon trading is the fact that all the public forums held by Ross Garnaut this week following the release of his report have been full. I am hoping to get to the one in Brisbane tomorrow.
There’s been ample commentary about the Garnaut Report and the wider issues in the blogosphere and the mainstream media. I might add my two cents worth in a few days time. In the meantime, I’ll just link to this article by Professor Barry Brook, a professor of climate change at the University of Adelaide, Geoff Russell and Peter Singer. It focuses on the lack attention paid by Garnaut to the impact of methane – a topic I’ve gone on about many times but which doesn’t seem to get much general attention.
Why is methane so under-appreciated? There’s a political reason and a technical reason. The political reason is that if telling Australians that they need to pay more for petrol and electricity is tough, telling them they need to consume less beef, lamb and dairy products is going to be tougher still.
The article suggests Garnaut has underestimated the heating impact of methane, asserting that “rather than rate methane as 25 times more potent, per tonne, than carbon dioxide in causing global warming, the correct figure, if we average over 20 years, should be that it is 72 times more potent.”
I understand the reasons why it is proposed that agriculture be left out of the initial carbon trading scheme, but we should still be raising awareness about this area of the debate in the meantime.